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How to use your interviews and research in your copy

using primary and secondary source material

Do break up your interview material with paragraphs of your own copy to introduce themes, questions, background etc, so you're not left with one big block of quotes.

quote dos and don'ts

You can paraphrase quotes and use reported speech (fragmented quotes. This offers further variety to your copy.

Don't be too direct

Don't be afraid to start or end the piece with a quote, especially if it's a strong one.

Don't play it safe

Don't put yourself into the piece unless it offers something or is relevant. Never use 'I spoke to' or 'I asked' - it's not bringing anything to the story.

Don't be there

Don't bury your interview quotes near the end of the piece. The interview should arrive high up in the piece (par four for news)

Don't bury

The speaker can be attributed at the start or end of the quote. Try mixing it up as you grow in confidence in presenting quotes.

Do use variety

Do correct dodgy grammar and generally tidy up quotes to make them read better, as long as you’re not changing the meaning of what is said.

Do correct

Do break up

Do attribute every quote (with He/she/[name] said:). This is vital in pieces with more than one source, but it should also be done in pieces with one interviewee.

Do attribute

You'll be working to deadlines on the course, so you can't afford to lose weeks waiting on initial approaches to get back to you. You'll also find out quickly editors chew you out for this when you start working!

Read more

Send a final follow up email. Press the button below for some suggested wording.


Follow up with a phonecall 2-3 days later, leaving a short message with your number if they are not available.


We understand that busy professionals can be reluctant to talk to students due to time constraints etc, however, interviewing is a key part of this course and indeed the profession, so here are some guidelines.

Timeline of interview approaches

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Make your initial approach by email to the first person, introduce yourself, explaining what you want and why you would like to talk to them.

Find around five potential interviewees and then rank them in order of preference of who you'd like to interview most.






How to use internet research in your stories


Any journalist or content creator that says they never use Wikipedia is either a. lying or b. an idiot. It can be a really useful starting point to understand for a topic. But it should only be used for that initial context. Head to the references at the bottom of the page and remember it can be edited by anyone.


Gossip Machine uses over five years’ worth of page views to surface potential 'news days' for any topic with a Wikipedia page. It then generates pre-filled Google News/search links for those dates so you can access a Google search for your topic.

Gossip Machine

Sites like the Wayback Machine archive the internet so you can access deleted or updated versions of web pages. You can even bypass paywalled content (but you didn't hear that from me). There's more info on using it in your research here.

Internet archives

'Whois Information' is legally mandated information about websites or domains on the internet. Online services such as whoxy.com or ICANN lookup will provide you with information such as who owns a site, when it was registered etc.

Open source intelligence

If you're writing an article for one publication, you shouldn't be referencing another media outlet's primary source info, sich as stats or quotes. The exceptions here can be celebrities' comments or massive investgative exclusives that had a wide impact (such as The Times and Ch4's Russell Brand expose. Look for data from non-media sources such as charities, government depts etc.

Official sources

The most important element of using secondary research from the internet is fact checking it, especially on social media.Google Reverse Image search, looking for multiple sources and using the tools and techniques on the left can all help verify user-generated content. Google Scholar also has some decent material on improving your search technique and fact checking. Read more here.

Fact check

Dear [name],Hope this finds you well.I've been in touch about a feature I am working on at the moment that I'd love to speak to you about. I appreciate you will be very busy, so it's absolutely no problem at all if you won't have the time to speak to me, but I'd really appreciate if you could let me know you aren't interested and I can take you off my radar for the piece.Many thanks,[name]

Follow-up email